Perspectives on the family (Topic 1)

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  • Created on: 25-02-17 13:30
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  • Family and Households
    • Family= A social institution who are related by kinship ties or marriage.
      • Kinship= relations of blood, marriage/civil partnership or adoption.
      • More and more people are cohabitating so it ought to be included as a family relationship.
    • Household = 1 or more people who live at the same address and share the living arrangements.
      • 2014 28% of households consisted of people iving alone.
    • The nuclear family a UNIVERSAL INSTITUTION?
      • Murdock (Functionalist) suggests that the nuclear family is so important and plays a vital function in maintaining society. It is found in some form of every society.
      • However, these are examples going against the functionalist statement that the nuclear family is universal.
        • The Nayar - Women had up to 12 lovers, the father uncertain and the brother took care of them. Showing no distinct characteristics of a nuclear family.
        • Communes - self-supporting communities. The aim for collective living instead of separate families.
        • Lone Parent Families.
        • Same-sex Relationships.
      • Family is a vital organ in maintaining the body of society. It performs a vital function in society, especially focusing on children,
        • Nuclear family is found in every society.
          • Parson, Young and Willmott (1973) and Fletcher (66) suggest that the classic extended family is now a privatised nuclear family or a modified extended family.
            • Parsons names the Privatised Nuclear Family "structurally isolated"
            • Functionalist  Fit Theory - geographically and socially mobile work force cause the need for nuclear family.
            • Has the extended family disappeared? In Asian and working-class communities this may not be the case.
      • Criticisms: 'Rose-Tinted', they down play conflict. Out of date. Ignore the exploitation of women.  Ignore the harmful effects of the family.
    • New Right
      • Similar to Functionalism, like traditional values.
      • Nuclear family ensures social stability. It is crucial they remain the dominant form of family as to create subservient, responsible adults.
      • Traditional family life is under threat from social changes such as the rise in divorce rates, cohabitation etc. They state these nontraditional relationships lead to anti-social behaviour.
        • Murray & Marsland: Welfare state has undermined personal responsibility for self-help and the importance of support from families. They argue lone-parent families encourage women to have children they cannot otherwise afford.
          • The emergence of a dependency culture and a work-shy underclass.
      • Particular rosy view on what family life is like, ignoring much of its darker side.
    • Marxism
      • Structural perspective on the family. Don't regard the nuclear family as necessary due to the fact that the nuclear family teaches its members to submit to capitalism.
      • Family is based on private property, driven by profit and riddled with conflict between the classes,
        • Engles: believed that the monogamous nuclear family developed as a means to pass on private property onto heirs.
          • "The housewife's position is that of a glorified prostitute."
        • Athusser: in order for capitalism to survive the w/c must submit to the r/c. The family is an ideological state appartus. R/c maintain a false class consciousness by winning the minds of the w/c.
        • Zartsky: Family is an escape route from oppression at work.
          • Marxist feminists criticise this as it is a romanticised view of the family.
    • Feminism
      • The family is a place of work - Oakley (1974) housework is unrewarding and remains the primary responsibility of women.
      • The myth of the symmetrical family - Put forward by Young and Willmott, that there is growing equality between partners in the family.  Feminists argue that women still take on most housework.
      • The greater dependency of women on men's earinings - women are on average paid 85% of men's pay.
      • Domestic Violence - women are far more likely than men to be victims.
      • Liberal Feminism:
        • Recognises the women's position in the family can have adverse effects on careers and health. Best way to improve is to reform measure in the present system and establish equality of opportunity for women with men.
      • Radical Feminsim:
        • See the family institution as patriarchal, steer clear of families and relationships with men.
      • Marxist  Feminism:
        • Double exploitation in work and the family.
        • Women socially reproduce a labour power.
    • Postmodernism
      • Lyotard (1984) contemporary society is rapidly changing. Postmodernists argue that with the disintegration of the nuclear family it has allowed individuals to have free will and choose a family suited to them.


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